Monitoring news and social media can be a daunting task, but when you’re working for a multinational company as large as Shell there is never any shortage of topics to track. Given the company’s involvement in everything from oil & gas production to electric vehicle charging, small issues or misinformation being spread on social channels can manifest into full crises if left unchecked.
Even though Kyle Mason, Shell’s Head of External Monitoring for Corporate Relations has a global team of insights professionals, they still don’t always have the time or resources to follow up on every request they receive. Mason says he must focus on issues where he believes his team can be most effective.
The challenge Mason faced was that many of the tools Shell was already using couldn’t prioritize the news and social media alerts very well. In early 2023, Shell added NewsWhip to fill that gap. “The main value that we get from NewsWhip is around the quality of the alerting and prediction algorithms that we don’t get from other tools,” says Mason. “For alerting, it’s far more accurate.”
Using time more effectively
One of the advantages of using NewsWhip that Mason appreciates is that it allows his team to handle a greater range of requests. “It is far quicker to set up a search on NewsWhip than with other tools, so we can let it do some of that heavy lifting for us,” he says.
The depth of the data generated by NewsWhip is also helping Mason and his team to answer questions they couldn’t in the past. To illustrate, he points to a request about how the company’s latest financial results ranked not only against its competitors’ releases but also relative to all other stories that day in terms of public attention.
“Previously, we’ve never been able to answer that question,” he says, noting that it would mean trying to track an infinite number of stories on a given day. “NewsWhip allows us to do that because we can run an open search filter on a certain country or region, and it will tell us what the most shared stories were for that day,” he explains.
From a resource perspective, Shell can also use the platform to decide when they can begin to wind down tracking of a particular story or crisis, something Mason says his team found more challenging to do with its existing tools. Often, it meant deactivating alerts to avoid flooding their inboxes with junk. But that doesn’t happen with NewsWhip. The team trusts the platform’s alerting system to help them keep an eye on topics longer term, he says.
Quality over quantity
For Mason, being able to access quality data is critical. There is no point in producing volumes of reports if it doesn’t influence a business decision or have a positive outcome. “If you can’t do that, you are a cost rather than an asset to the business,” he notes.
Mason looks at every issue through that lens. When deciding whether they need to respond to an issue, Shell doesn’t leave that to guesswork. “Whether we are designing communications for a new announcement for a wind farm license we’ve won or deciding on which channels to use to amplify particular types of content, we make our decisions based on evidence and data rather than on our own assumptions,” he says.
That’s what he likes about NewsWhip. Not only does it produce high-quality information, but the platform also filters out the spam data and makes it easy to see if a conversation is gaining momentum online. While alerting mechanisms tend to flood inboxes with junk, NewsWhip relies on engagement metrics to prioritize what’s relevant, saving hours of having someone sift through all the data to make sense of it.
NewsWhip sends hundreds of thousands of alerts to its customers every month, but it’s the innovative dashboard and data visualization within the platform that make it easy to generate insights and know what to prioritize. “The number one metric that we didn’t have access to previously is predictive interactions,” he says. “That’s the one that enables us to work quickly, because it’s live.”’
Knowing how many impressions a story gets on its own isn’t always useful, he says, explaining that you need to have more context about how a story is performing relative to other topics to determine if it’s something to engage with.
For Mason, expanding the capacity of his team to deliver deeper insights to Shell’s leadership without having to expand his headcount is a win. As he explains, everyone is sensitive about budgets, which is why he had to be sure NewsWhip would add value before paying for another subscription. “Rather than just buying another tool, we bought something that saves time and is useful day to day,” he says.